As “Shannon” on Comedy Central’s hit sketch comedy, Kroll Show, Tess Broussard is known for dishing plenty of laughs. Her striking, exotic looks comes from a rich heritage that includes Chinese, Hawaiian, French and Cajun. Tess is one Southern belle who possesses a deep passion for rescue animals. In this insightful Q & A, the talented comic shares thoughts on juggling life as an actress/model with her pivotal role as single mom. You’ll also learn about a woman deeply dedicated to rescuing dogs.
How did the role of Shannon on the Kroll Show come about?
It was a typical audition. But, the thing that was really weird was you had to write your own audition.
Had you written sketch comedy before? Or, was this something new for you?
That was my first comedic audition. But, I was going to school then for acting. At the time, I was studying comedy at The Groundlings. I absolutely loved it there because you could be as kooky you wanted and have no shame. You can just make crazy animal noises in the room. It was all stage play with no embarrassment.
If you could perform in a film with anyone, what actors/actresses are on your dream list? Who would make your Top 3 comics?
I love Amy Shumer, Melissa McCarthy and Seth Rogan to name a few.
I know you do a great deal of work with rescue shelters. How did that become one of your charitable passions?
When I was younger, I always wanted a baby brother to grow up with. So, we could run around and play outside. We had a lot of land, where we grew up. We had horses, cows, pigs, ducks, geese, dogs, and cats. We had a farm and a lot of animals. I just loved animals. Out here in L.A., we don’t have a farm. I fostered animals, and started working with the rescue groups. One of my friends was doing it, so I got into it. I didn’t think it was such a bad thing. Pets always give you a lot of love! And, they need you because they’ve been abandoned. They’re innocent. They’re victims. That’s how I got involved. My heart grew to love them even more, and I couldn’t stop. Now, my daughter, Ava, is really involved. She loves to foster dogs, too.
In what capacity is your daughter involved as far as helping with the rescue shelters?
Ava goes with me to take home any dogs that need fostering: ones that don’t have homes, we bring them back home with us.. She helps care for them with me. Then, we take them back to the rescue, where on the weekends they can try to get adopted. We give them a home, and they don’t want to leave. They acclimate with my other pets: my other two dogs and cat. They’re all rescued.
What’s the name of the rescue shelter that you’re closely associated with?
The Bill Foundation in Beverly Hills and Dogs without Borders. When we can, we try to get to the animal shelters in others cities. These animals have been abandoned/abused, and you can see the pain and the loneliness in their eyes.
Why do you believe animals are good pets for children?
I think animals can detect people’s feelings. They’re the perfect chemistry. They want to be loved. And, if you give them the love back, they’ll do anything for you. They’ll be your best friend. As the saying goes, “A man’s best friend is his dog.”
When you first moved here from Dallas, Texas, you had the opportunity to model for Playboy. What was that like? And, how were you approached by them?
It was interesting because I was going to Pepperdine at the time. And, I was really into fitness. So, I attended an all-women’s workout club in Beverly Hills. It was a pretty fascinating place because it was Jane Fonda’s club! I admire her. She’s one of my role models. So, I just worked out there, and I just love her, and enjoyed working out there. One day, a woman from that gym approached me and asked me to be in a fashion show. I was in a fashion and I met an agent. She was a nice lady. And, she was like, “Well, you know, you should audition for this role.” I did.
She said, “Well, we need to get rid of your southern accent.” ‘Cause I was talking like this: like I was straight outta Texas (Tess says with a rich southern accent.). I went to a voice coach to try to get rid of my southern accent for a part. Through working with them, I met another person. She was in Playboy, and she did something with corporation. That’s how I got in, and they pulled me into Playboy. They called me in, and I met other girls. We all got along. Well, I was flattered being a young girl from Texas. I have a religious family with impressionable friends. There was a lot to think about. But, after I talked to my parents about it, they agreed that it would be a great opportunity. In the end, it worked out.
I was always had a professional attitude. I eventually went to spokesmodeling for Cadillac (2001-03) and Harley-Davidson.
Did you always aspire to model?
No. I wanted to be a nurse or an advertising executive.
As a single mom, what type of advice can you offer those sharing similar experiences?
Many of the ones I know are super busy working. But, I say, “Spend as much time as you can with your child.” Be a caring mom. If there’s an opportunity, don’t indulge them too much. But, give them a lot of love. And, show them about kindness, caring, giving to others, and being honest.
What’s up next for you?
I’m talking to producers about projects. I’m working with my daughter, making sure she’s healthy, happy, and growing up in a good way. I’m just trying to be there for my daughter!
Coming from Texas, I’m sure you know a thing or two about baking and cooking?
You know I love my hush puppies! I love my grits and bacon. I’m a meat eater.
Is there a specific dish that you and your daughter bake?
Right now, she’s 8 and learning to cook. She does a lot of baking: like cookies and brownies. We’ve baked chicken together. Ava knows how to bake a potato because that’s pretty easy to wash, and she knows how to put holes in it. Then, during the holidays, we go through my recipe book.